Sir! P.M. is on the Line
Are some people born with a gubernatorial spoon in the mouth? This question crosses one’s mind when one sees appointments and transfers of State Governors. It looks as if Governors are born. Once a Governor always a Governor. The Governors of today are totally different from those of the yore, particularly of the British period,…
Are some people born with a gubernatorial spoon in the mouth? This question crosses one’s mind when one sees appointments and transfers of State Governors. It looks as if Governors are born. Once a Governor always a Governor. The Governors of today are totally different from those of the yore, particularly of the British period, about whom Akbar Allahabadi had said while speaking about the British monarch: “The stars might stop moving if they happen to see her gait; Her displeasure in coquettishness is such that the Governors might feel compelled to kneel before her.”
The Governor of today, to the cynics, is a glorified OSD of the President. His task is to find out a dozen of holes in the coat of the Opposition. The moment he finds enough, he sends post-haste scathing report to his boss in the Rashtrapati Bhavan. In the meantime, the Ruling Party at the Centre continues to remain in close touch with Governor to find out when the State Government loses majority. Those who appoint, or get appointed Governors, see to it that in an opposition-ruled State, a Congress-inclined Governor goes as we see in the case of S.K. Singh or Balram Jakhar. The two born-Governors whom I know distantly are A.R. Kidwai and Mohammad Shafi Qureshi, a Kashmiri.
Since the very beginning Qureshi has been a smart chap. The late Qari Mohammad Idrees narrated a few anecdotes of his. During the freedom struggle, an important meeting took place, which was chaired by the late Mr. Nehru. Its minutes were top secret. But the young Shafi, who incidentally never saw eye to eye with Shaikh Abdullah, knew about the gist of the said meeting. His sixth sense said it needs to be broadcast by the BBC. He, it is said, rushed to the airport. This meeting had much to do with late Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, who as a follow-up of the meeting, was going to London. Shafi handed over a slip to one of the Maulana’s aids to be handed over to BBC soon after reaching over there. His plan worked successfully. After a few days he came across Panditji, who soon after seeing him, started frowning upon him:
Nehru: “It is you, it is you, it is you!”
Shafi: “When did I deny that!?”
To the tallest of the tall, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, Shafi was just a boy. Once the Sheikh was coming from the South Block that now houses several offices of the Government of India. Shafi was about to step on the staircase while Sher-e-Kashmir was about to step out. On the staircase the Sheik asked:
Sheikh: “How are you?”
Shafi: “I am going up, you are going down!”
Shafi never parted company with his dignity, as we see in the case of his senior Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad, about whom I was, long long ago, repeatedly told in Srinagar how he bamboozled Sheikh Abdullah. He would, it is alleged, assure and re-assure the un-suspecting Sheikh: “There are five pillars in Islam. To me there are six. And the sixth is to follow Sheikh Saheb!”
The rest is history, but that too needs a correction. It is wrong to suggest that the late Mr. Nehru had sent Sheikh Abdullah to jail. It was the decision of the late Rafi Ahmed Kidwai. What chained the hands of Nehru was the press creation, immediately after the Sheikh’s incarceration: “Prime Minister Nehru Takes a Bold Decision” was the common headline of the national newspapers, after Abdullah’s unjustified arrest. Amidst popular approbation, Nehru had to own an indefensible act which he had not done.
One thing was common between the late Mr. Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad and Babu Jagjiwan Ram. The former would stage-manage armed attacks on him to show to New Delhi how important he was in the then pro-Pakistan J&K. The late Mr. Jagjiwan Ram would hire journalists to keep him in the headlines. His only request was: “Don’t praise me, just keep me in the news through whatever means you like.”
The mantra of Raja Dinesh Singh, however, was different. He would address press frequently. In these conferences, at least twice or thrice, his P.A. would interrupt him to inform: Sir! the Prime Minister wants to talk to you… Sir! Madam is on the line… Sir! Mrs Indira Gandhi wants to talk on some important policy matter…!”